NICOSIA — Ignoring European Union soft sanctions and Greek complaints, Turkey will pick up drilling for oil and gas in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) so far undeterred and planning to do the same off the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said the energy hunt will resume as Turkey had said it would after the EU pulled back any talk of other sanctions for plans to look around Greek islands as well.
“We have conducted about eight drilling activities in the Mediterranean over three years,” he said, noting that three of these activities took place in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, said Kathimerini.
“What we have said from the beginning is that we have our own rights and interests in accordance with international maritime law in these areas, so there is no chance of us backing off,” Donmez added.
He didn't mention that Turkey doesn't recognize the United Nations Law of the Sea he cited to Turkey's advantage and Greek complaints that Turkey won't follow international laws as it forges ahead.
The newspaper said while resuming drilling off Cyprus could spike tensions again, with the EU at a loss how to stop it, that analysts don't think Turkey will for now go near Greek islands.
Turkey's move comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot hardline nationalist leader Ersin Tatar rejected a decades-old push for reunifying the island split by an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.
Turkey seized and occupied the northern third and keeps a 35,000-strong standing army there, which it refused to move off, leading to talks in 2017 collapsing outright in 2017.
Hopes disintegrated again in April this year at informal talks in Geneva, Switzerland put together by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres which failed over the Turkish demands for two separate states that would bring worldwide recognition to the occupied side.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, his pleas to the UN ignored, had said he wouldn't talk as long as Turkey was drilling offshore but went to Geneva anyway, with no word what he would do if Turkey picks up the energy hunt again.